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Tyler Harris to leave Providence

03.24.15 at 2:12 pm ET
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It didn’t take long for the 2015-16 version of the Providence Friars basketball team to start taking shape.
In a move that was largely expected, redshirt junior forward Tyler Harris (Dix Hills, N.Y.) will graduate in May and has decided not to return for his final season of eligibility. Harris, who transferred to Providence in 2012 after spending his freshman season at N.C. State, sat out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. After playing 69 games over the last two seasons with the Friars, Harris has one season of eligibility remaining.

“I would like to wish Tyler all the best in his future endeavors,” coach Ed Cooley said. “Tyler helped us move our program forward over the last two years as we won the Big East title (2014) and made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances during his two seasons of competition.”

In 2014, Harris started all 35 games and averaged 11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while helping the Friars capture the Big East title and make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004. In 2015, Harris played in all 34 games, making 12 starts. He finished third on the team in scoring (9.9 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (4.4 rpg). His contributions over the two seasons helped the Friars post a 45-24 mark and make consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1989 and ’90.

Tweeted Harris Tuesday afternoon: I would like to thank all of the fans and supporters at Providence College for giving me such a great experience. For the best interest of my future I will not be coming back to Providence and will be playing somewhere else. I had countless amount of memories here and still want to keep my heart with Providence … for this is the place where I was able to achieve a Big East Championship and most importantly get my degree.

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NCAA hockey bracket announced: BU to Manchester, BC to Providence, Harvard to South Bend

03.22.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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After capturing the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles, Boston University will be the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire, and face fourth-seeded Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of Minnesota-Duluth vs. Minnesota in the regional final Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Boston College and Providence, both of whom earned an at-large bid, will be in the East Regional in Providence, the Eagles as the three-seed and the Friars as the four-seed. BC will face second-seeded Denver Saturday at 3 p.m. and Providence will take on top-seeded Miami (Ohio) at 6:30 p.m. The two winners will meet in the regional final Sunday at 5 p.m.

Harvard, fresh off its first ECAC tournament title since 2006, is a three-seed in the Midwest Regional in South Bend, Indiana, and will take on second-seeded Nebraska-Omaha Saturday at 7:30 p.m. If the Crimson can win that game, they would face the winner of Minnesota State vs. RIT Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the regional final.

The fourth regional is in Fargo, North Dakota, where North Dakota will face Quinnipiac and Michigan Tech will take on St. Cloud State in the first round.

The winner from Manchester will face the winner from Fargo in one national semifinal, with the winners from Providence and South Bend facing off in the other.

Here is the full bracket:

Midwest Regional (South Bend, Indiana)
1. Minnesota State vs. 4. RIT
2. Nebraska-Omaha vs. 3. Harvard

West Regional (Fargo, North Dakota)
1. North Dakota vs. 4. Quinnipiac
2. Michigan Tech vs. 3. St. Cloud State

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
1. Boston University vs. 4. Yale
2. Minnesota-Duluth vs. 3. Minnesota

East Regional (Providence, Rhode Island)
1. Miami (Ohio) vs. 4. Providence
2. Denver vs. 3. Boston College

Harvard beats Colgate to win first ECAC championship since 2006

03.21.15 at 10:58 pm ET
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While Jack Eichel was busy wowing everyone in Hockey East, Jimmy Vesey was doing the same in the ECAC. The North Reading native and Nashville Predators draft pick scored twice to lead Harvard to its first ECAC tournament title since 2006, as the Crimson beat Colgate 4-2 in Lake Placid in Saturday night’s conference championship game.

With the win, the Crimson qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. They will find out where they’re going and who they’re facing Sunday at noon when the bracket is announced.

Vesey opened the scoring 12:22 into the game, but Colgate’s Darcy Murphy tied it three minutes later. Vesey struck again early in the second period with a power-play goal, and Patrick McNally added another power-play tally later in the period to make it 3-1.

John Lidgett cut the lead to 3-2 with 7:43 left in the game, but that was as close as Colgate would get. Colin Blackwell sealed the win with an empty-netter in the final minute.

Vesey now has 31 goals on the season, four more than anyone else in the country. His 1.58 points per game are second only to Eichel. He was at his best in the ECAC tournament, finishing with nine goals and four assists in seven games.

Jack Eichel scores 2 more goals, BU beats UMass-Lowell to win Hockey East championship

03.21.15 at 9:38 pm ET
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UMass-Lowell’€™s reign as Hockey East tournament champions is over. Jack Eichel registered two goals and an assist as top-seeded Boston University ended the River Hawks’€™ hopes for a three-peat with a 5-3 win at TD Garden in Saturday night’€™s conference championship game. It is the Terriers’ first Hockey East tournament title since 2009 and eighth overall.

The Terriers, who also won the Hockey East regular-season title, outscored their opponents 20-6 in four Hockey East tournament games and locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with Saturday’€™s win. They will head to either Manchester or Providence for next weekend’€™s regionals. The bracket will be announced Sunday at noon.

The River Hawks’€™ season is over with the loss, as they did not do enough during the regular season to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. It is the first time they have missed NCAAs during Norm Bazin’€™s four years behind the bench.

Eichel now has 66 points (24 goals, 42 assists) on the season. That is the most by any freshman since Maine’€™s Paul Kariya in 1992-93 and the most ever by a BU freshman, as he passed Dave Silk and Mark Fiddler on Saturday. The Hobey Baker favorite has nine goals and 17 assists during a 12-game point streak, including six goals and five assists in four Hockey East tournament games.

The Terriers took a 1-0 lead 13:08 into the game with a power-play goal. Eichel entered the zone and made a pass over to Matt Grzelcyk that was partially deflected, but it still reached Grzelcyk, who buried it blocker-side for his 10th goal of the season. Three of those goals have come at TD Garden — where his father is a longtime bull gang worker — as he also scored twice in the Beanpot championship game.

BU appeared to score again just 41 seconds later when Nikolas Olsson collected a loose puck and beat Kevin Boyle glove-side. The goal was overturned after a video review, though, because Matt Lane, who was the first Terrier to the puck, had entered the zone offsides by half a step.

The no-goal could have been a momentum swing in Lowell’€™s favor, but Eichel put an end to that theory just over a minute later with one of the best plays he’€™s made in a season full of great plays. Eichel carried the puck down the right wing, made a great move inside Dylan Zink as Zink went for the hit and then slid the puck under a sliding Joe Gambardella and through Boyle’€™s legs for his 23rd goal of the season.

The River Hawks responded well, though, and cut the lead to 2-1 on a power-play goal with 1:50 left in the first. Tommy Panico fired a shot from the point that produced a rebound that Joe Gambardella gathered right in front and flipped past Matt O’€™Connor.

BU regained its two-goal lead 5:38 into the second when Cason Hohmann took a pass from A.J. Greer on a two-on-one and held the puck before beating Boyle five-hole. It was Hohmann’€™s fourth goal in four Hockey East tournament games.

Lowell nearly cut the lead to 3-2 on a power play midway through the second when the puck popped out to Zack Kamrass in the slot, but O’€™Connor made a great sliding glove save to rob Kamrass. The Terriers then made it 4-1 on another two-on-one in the final minute of the period. Olsson fed Grzelcyk, who then sent it right back to Olsson for an easy finish.

The River Hawks cut the lead to 4-2 with 13:13 left in the game when Michael Fallon fed Michael Kapla for a shot that beat O’€™Connor blocker-side, but then Eichel scored again with 5:17 left in the game when he raced down the right wing and beat Boyle five-hole to make it 5-2. Michael Louria cut the lead to 5-3 with 3:08 to go, but that was as close as Lowell would get.

Providence’s season ends with disappointing loss to Dayton

03.21.15 at 8:01 am ET
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Not exactly the way Ed Cooley, or any of the Providence Friars, would have drawn this one up beforehand, to be certain.

Dayton’s Flyers, in front of what amounted to a home crowd in Columbus, Ohio, just 75 miles from their campus, brought the overwhelming majority of the 17,584 fans in the stands with them late Friday night, and used their energy with some quickness on the defensive end to beat PC, 66-53, in the NCAA East Regional second round.

With the win, Dayton (27-8) moves into the third round Sunday at 6:10 p.m. against the Oklahoma Sooners, winners earlier in the evening over Albany, 69-60.

The game was originally scheduled for a 9:57 tip, which is a bit unusual — and late — for a game in the Eastern time zone. Add to that the plethora of fouls called in the three games preceding PC-Dayton, and the actual start time became 10:53, almost an hour late. It was the last game of the second round in the tournament for everyone, and Dayton showed college hoop fans exactly why size doesn’t really matter. Much.

Without a starter or eligible player on their roster taller than 6-foot-6, the Flyers use a quick, tenacious defense against larger opponents like Providence. It paid off with an early 14-2 run over a seven-minute span in the first half, as a quick 5-2 lead out of the gate for the Friars turned into a 16-7 deficit. Free throw disparity also became a major factor, with Dayton outshooting Providence 14-1 from the line in the half, but leading by only three at the break, 28-25.

When Jalen Lindsey hit a 3-point shot with 16:35 to play in the second half, the Friars finally tied the score at 33 and seemed to grab some momentum. Instead, it was Dayton flying past PC at this point, igniting an 11-2 run with threes by Jordan Sibert, Darrell Davis and Dyshawn Pierre (20 points, nine rebounds). Providence managed to keep things close, pulling back within three after a layup from LaDontae Henton to make it 44-41 with 6:43 to go.

But another trey from Sibert (15 points) took the starch right out of the Friars’ shirts. Free throws were a huge disparity in the game, and the Flyers iced it from the line in the final 3:42 after PC coach Ed Cooley was called for a technical foul.

“They played very well,” a clearly disappointed Cooley said afterward. “You’ve got to credit Dayton. I thought they played well. When the game got tight they made a couple of big plays, and we had some errors. We had some uncharacteristic turnovers, an uncharacteristic technical foul. It didn’t cost us much other than emotion in that building.”

“Really, they’re just a tough team,” said PC guard Kris Dunn, who fouled out of the game with 11 points, four assists and seven turnovers. “They play under you. They tail you. They did a good job today, and just played harder than us.”

Henton, who finishes his Providence career as the No. 2 scorer all time (18 points, 11 rebounds for the game, but just 7-of-26 from the floor), seemed to think it was just one of those days.

“When the shot’s not falling for a lot of guys, we played bad offensively,” he said. “We turned the ball over. It just happened to be on this court today.”

That was another factor that entered into the postgame postmortem, when Cooley was asked about the atmosphere on the court and in the stands, and the clear advantage for a lower-seeded team close to home.

“This was a neutral site. It was neutral,” was all Cooley could muster.

With their Dynamic Duo not in sync offensively, there wasn’t much of anything for the Friars to muster late Friday night/early Saturday morning. A late-night affair ended without advancing in the NCA’s — not the way it was originally drawn up, to be certain.

NCAA NOTES

The explanation from the NCAA on Cooley’s technical foul — which seemed to be over his slamming his chair in the huddle to the floor and not thrown outside of the team huddle — came from NCAA supervisor of officials John Adams. “A negative response to a call/no-call including, but not limited to, approaching/charging an official in a hostile, aggressive or otherwise threatening manner, emphatically removing one’s coat in response to a call/no-call or throwing equipment or clothing onto the floor.”
Cooley’s response? “I didn’t even know I hit the chair. You’re coaching your team. You’re trying to put some emotion into your team. You know, it puts the official in a tough spot. . . . I’m just trying to coach my team. That’s what that was about.”

Dunn, along with his teammates, took the high road for the calls that for the most part did not go PC’s way. “They did a good job on us. They played great defense the whole game. We tried to get it going, we just weren’t making shots. And credit them.” Dayton held PC to 34 percent shooting, and outscored the Friars by a whopping 22-3 from the free throw line. The Flyers also outshot Providence with 30 attempts to just seven, season low totals in free throws made and attempted for the Friars.

Henton finishes his Providence career with 2,059 points, second behind Ryan Gomes, and 1,055 rebounds, ranking him sixth. Dunn, who will have a decision to make as to whether he will return to PC or turn pro, finished with 247 assists for the year, leading the Big East and finishing second nationally. He also finishes No. 2 behind Ernie DiGregorio in single-season assists.

The meeting was the first between Providence and Dayton in 31 years, and the Flyers now hold the all-time series advantage 6-2. PC’s NCAA Tournament record now is 14-18 in 18 appearances. The win for Dayton was the first of Friday’s play for the underdog to beat the favorite in 16 games. Higher-seeded teams have never won all 16 games played in the opening rounds.

Jack Eichel scores twice as BU beats UNH to reach Hockey East title game

03.20.15 at 10:54 pm ET
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For the second time in the last three years and third time in the last seven, the Hockey East championship game will be Boston University vs. UMass-Lowell. After Lowell beat Vermont 4-1 in Friday night’€™s first semifinal, the top-seeded Terriers beat New Hampshire by the same score in the second semifinal.

The Terriers took a 2-1 lead midway through the second on a strong shift from their fourth line. Nick Roberto took the puck down low and tried a wraparound attempt that produced a rebound for Chase Phelps to bury. It was just the second goal of the season for the freshman Phelps, and it was his first point since Nov. 29.

BU made it 3-1 with 6:15 left in the game. UNH had done a good job limiting the number of chances BU’€™s top line got for most of the night, but Jack Eichel and company came through late to seal the win. Eichel poked a puck to Danny O’€™Regan while lying on the ice and O’€™Regan then set up Evan Rodrigues in the slot. Rodrigues’€™ shot was partially saved, but Eichel pounced on the rebound and tucked it inside the post for his 21st goal of the season. Eichel later tacked on an empty-netter to finish off the scoring.

UNH took a 1-0 lead 14:34 into the game when a miscommunication between Brandon Hickey and A.J. Greer left the puck sitting in the slot for Tyler Kelleher. Kelleher partially whiffed on the shot, but it still managed to slide through Matt O’€™Connor’€™s legs.

BU answered two and a half minutes later on a big momentum swing. After O’€™Connor came up with a big save on Andrew Poturalski to keep the game 1-0, Cason Hohmann beat out an icing at the other end and wound up finishing off a nice pass from Matt Grzelcyk a few seconds later to tie the game. BU nearly scored again in the final minute of the first period, but Tirone made a great glove save to rob Matt Lane on a point-blank chance.

BU and Lowell have met for the Hockey East title three times previously, with BU winning in 1994 and 2009 before Lowell took the last meeting in 2013 in Jack Parker‘€™s final game behind the BU bench. The Terriers will be looking to win their eighth Hockey East tournament title, while the River Hawks are trying to capture their third straight and third overall.

BU has won both meetings with Lowell this season, coming from behind to win 4-3 in overtime on a Jack Eichel game-winner back on Jan. 18 and then running away with a 5-2 victory on Feb. 6.

With the win, the Terriers moved closer to getting one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. They can lock one up with a win Saturday night, but will most likely get one even if they lose. UNH’€™s season is over with the loss.

UMass-Lowell beats Vermont to reach third straight Hockey East championship game

03.20.15 at 7:37 pm ET
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UMass-Lowell is heading back to the Hockey East championship game. The River Hawks beat Vermont 4-1 in the semifinals Friday night to advance to Saturday night’€™s title game, where they will be looking to capture their third straight Hockey East tournament title.

Lowell took a 2-1 lead with 3:50 left in the second when Michael Louria scored on a bad-angle shot from the right side that Vermont goalie Brody Hoffman should have stopped. Terrence Wallin added an insurance marker 8:46 into the third when his shot from the slot deflected off a Vermont stick and over Hoffman’€™s glove. Joe Gambardella tacked on a late empty-netter

The Catamounts opened the scoring 11:42 into the game when Jonathan Turk fed a charging Kevin Irwin for a redirect goal from right in front. But then the Catamounts took two penalties in the next 25 seconds, and Lowell made them pay when Michael Kapla fired through an A.J. White screen for a 5-on-3 power-play goal to tie the game at 1-1.

Vermont struggled to generate any sort of consistent offensive pressure throughout the game, as the River Hawks controlled possession for much of the night and did a good disrupting Vermont’€™s breakouts and zone entries.

Lowell will take on the winner of Friday night’€™s second semifinal between Boston University and New Hampshire in Saturday night’€™s championship game at 7 p.m. at TD Garden. The River Hawks are looking to become just the second team in Hockey East history to win three straight tournament titles, with Boston College from 2010-2012 being the only team that has accomplished it so far.

If BU beats UNH Friday night, the Lowell defense will have to find a way to limit the number of scoring chances Jack Eichel’€™s line gets. That line, the best in the country, has combined for five goals and nine assists in two games against Lowell this season, both BU wins.

A win Saturday night would get Lowell back to the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight year. A loss Saturday night would almost certainly end the River Hawks’€™ season. They had only a slim chance of getting an at-large bid going into the weekend to begin with, but Harvard beating Quinnipiac and St. Cloud State beating North Dakota Friday seems to have eliminated most, if not all, of the scenarios that would have gotten Lowell in without winning Hockey East.

The loss ends Vermont’€™s season. The Catamounts were hoping to reach NCAAs for a second year in a row, but they needed to win at least one game this weekend and probably two.

Harvard knocks off top-seeded Quinnipiac, advances to ECAC championship game

03.20.15 at 6:36 pm ET
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Harvard advanced to the ECAC championship game and kept its NCAA tournament hopes alive with a 5-2 win over top-seeded Quinnipiac on Friday.

The Crimson stormed out to a 3-0 first-period lead with goals from Jimmy Vesey, Colin Blackwell and Tyler Moy. The Bobcats cut the lead to 3-2 with a pair of second-period goals, but Harvard kept them off the board after that. Vesey scored his second of the game on an empty-netter with 1:36 left in regulation and then Sean Malone tacked on another empty-netter.

With the two goals, Vesey upped his nation-leading goal total to 29. Blackwell now has four goals in his last six games after battling concussion symptoms for the better part of the last two years. There was a scary moment early in the third period when Blackwell left the ice after taking a hit to the head, but he returned to the game a couple minutes later.

Harvard will take on the winner of tonight’s semifinal between St. Lawrence and Colgate in the ECAC championship game Saturday night at 7:35 p.m. in Lake Placid. The Crimson are looking for their first ECAC tournament title since 2006.

A win Saturday night would also earn the Crimson a spot in the NCAA tournament. They would still have a chance to get in even with a loss Saturday night, but not a very good one. According to collegehockeyranked.com, they have an 11.6 percent chance if they lose Saturday.

Friars expect Dayton, fans to come out flying

03.19.15 at 10:20 pm ET
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Providence will be the last Big East team to play in the NCAA Tournament’s second round Friday night in Columbus, Ohio, and its game with Dayton will be the last played before the third round begins Saturday.

The waiting has been the hardest part, perhaps, for the Friars this week as it took them until Thursday night before they even knew which team would be on the opposite bench. For the Friars, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“What it did was allow us to concentrate on us,” Cooley said. “And at the end of the day that’s what it’s really about. But that was a different experience and something that we’ll learn from … and now we know who we’re playing. So we’re excited.”

“It was a pretty good game [Dayton vs. Boise State],” said senior center Carson Desrosiers. “We had already scouted a little bit of each team the previous two days, and now we’re looking forward to playing Dayton.”

As for first-team all-Big East forward LaDontae Henton, Friday night’s game (9:40 p.m. on 103.7 FM) represents a chance to step on the floor against the school, the team and the program he originally committed to play with — Dayton. That was before then-coach Brian Gregory left for Georgia Tech, and Henton reopened his recruitment. In stepped Friars assistant Bob Simon, and the rest is history — all 2,000-plus career points and 1,000-plus rebounds of it — history that will be hard to match anytime soon.

“One of our coaches [Simon] had a relationship with him, and once he opened up his recruitment and allowed us — he was our first-ever recruit here,” Cooley explained. “He’s probably one of the all-time greatest players to ever come to Providence College. So I’m happy for LaDontae that he’s able to have back-to-back tournament appearances. Hopefully he has saved his best for last playing in the place that he was originally going to.”

“I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason,” Henton said. “Coach Gregory left Dayton. And I opened [my recruitment] back up. And Providence came calling on me. It’s been a right fit ever since I came here, and I think it’s one of the best decisions I made in my life to come to Providence College.”

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Harvard throws scare at North Carolina but just misses upset

03.19.15 at 9:44 pm ET
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Harvard's Wesley Saunders drives past North Carolina's J.P. Tokoto during Thursday night's game in Jacksonville, Florida. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Harvard’s Wesley Saunders drives past North Carolina‘s J.P. Tokoto during Thursday night’s game in Jacksonville, Florida. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Harvard’s bid for an NCAA Tournament upset for the third consecutive season fell just short Thursday night in Jacksonville, Florida, as the 13th-seeded Crimson missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds and fell to fourth-seeded North Carolina, 67-65.

Harvard (22-8) trailed by 16 points with 14:20 remaining, but the Ivy League champions chipped away and finally caught up with 1:15 left, when point guard Siyani Chambers scored a four-point play, swishing a 3-pointer while being fouled and hitting the free throw for a 65-63 lead.

With 1:04 left, UNC freshman Justin Jackson tied the score with a one-hander in the lane.

On Harvard’s ensuing possession, the Crimson worked the ball around and ended up with a deep 3-pointer by Chambers that fell off the front of the rim. The Tar Heels (25-11) got the ball out quickly and ended up with a fast-break dunk by Jackson with 22 seconds left, making it 67-65.

Chambers missed another 3-point attempt with 15 seconds left, but UNC gave the Crimson one more chance when Kennedy Meeks missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

Harvard got the ball to Wesley Saunders at the top, and he pulled up for a 3-point jumper that hit the backboard, rolled across the rim and fell into Carolina’s hands as time expired.

“They were so persistent,” Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige said in an on-court interview right after the game. “They kept coming at us. Some teams fold, but this is the NCAA Tournament. We built a good, comfortable [16]-point lead, but we got complacent and they kept fighting. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. But at the end of the day, we made enough stops.”

Saunders led all scorers with 26 points, hitting 8-of-14 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws. Chambers added 13 points.

For UNC, Jackson scored 14 points, Paige had 12 and Meeks netted 10.

The Tar Heels, not surprisingly considering their size advantage, held a 35-26 edge on the boards. UNC also hit 55 percent of its shots compared to 38 percent for Harvard.

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